News Extra

Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-2024: Changes

As usual, there are lots of changes, but most of them are minor and have little impact on sailors at Hollowell during a race.


  1. The racing rules of sailing 2021-2024 take effect on January 1, 2021
  2. Start and finish now occur when any part of the hull is over the line; the boat’s crew and equipment were removed from the definition.
  3. Sail the course definition was added. This will allow Race Committee to disqualify you without protesting and holding a hearing. You can still request redress.

Start / Finish

“A boat starts when her hull, having been entirely on the pre-start side of the starting line at or after her starting signal, and having complied with rule 30.1 if it applies, any part of her hull,crew or equipment. crosses the starting line from the pre-start side to the course side in the direction of the first mark.”

Rationale and Impact

  1. Eliminating crew and equipment from the definition makes it easier for the Race Officer to identify boats that are over. Equipment such as bow sprits are harder to correlate with a specific boat.
  2. “Hull” is not defined, but is likely to be interpreted in accordance with the Equipment Rules for Sailing.
  3. The same change is made for the definition of finish and rules 29 and 30 regarding recalls and starting penalties.

Sail the course – new definition

“A boat sails the course provided that a string representing her track from the time she begins to approach the starting line from its prestart side to start until she finishes, when drawn taut, (a) passes each mark of the course for the race on the required side and in the correct order, (b) touches each mark designated in the sailing instructions to be a rounding mark, and (c) passes between the marks of a gate from the direction of the course from the previous mark.”

Rationale and Impact

  1. Clarifies the meaning of sail the course throughout the RRS. Removes the “string rule” portion of Rule 28.
  2. Allows Race Committee to score a boat NSC without needing to protest her under Rule 28. A boat may still request redress.
  3. As a sailor, you may only learn of being disqualified by reading the posted score sheet. You need to be aware of the time limits for requesting redress (Rule 62.2):
  4. As soon as possible after learning of the reasons for making the request.
  5. On last day of racing, no later than 30 minutes after the decision is posted.

Rule 14, Avoiding Contact

Blue would not be exonerated for failing to avoid contact

“A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-of-way boat, or one entitled to sailing within the room or mark-room to which she is entitled, (a) need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat is not keeping clear or giving room or mark-room. and (b) shall be exonerated if she breaks this rule and the contact does not cause damage or injury.“

Rationale and Impact

  1. In mark rounding situations, you are only protected by this rule if you are sailing within the room to which you are entitled. See the example.
  2. Exoneration moved to Rule 43

Rule 16, Changing Course

“16.1 When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

16.2 In addition, on a beat to windward when after the starting signal a port-tack boat is keeping clear by sailing to pass astern to leeward of a starboard-tack boat, the starboard-tack boat shall not change course bear away if as a result the port-tack boat would immediately need to must change course immediately to continue keeping clear.”

Rationale and Impact

  1. Rule 16.1 requires a right-of-way boat to give room to keep clear when changing course in all situations and is not changed.
  2. Wording in 16.2 was revised to specifically address bearing off to hunt a boat on a beat to windward. In team racing, bearing away past 90 degrees to the true wind on a beat is a common tactic.

Rule 18.1, When Rule 18 (Mark-Room) Applies

“Rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and at least one of them is in the zone. However, it does not apply
(a) between boats on opposite tacks on a beat to windward,
(b) between boats on opposite tacks when the proper course at the mark for one but not both of them is to tack,
(c) between a boat approaching a mark and one leaving it, or
(d) if the mark is a continuing obstruction, in which case rule 19 applies.

Rule 18 no longer applies between boats when mark-room has been given.“

Rationale and Impact

The added wording corrects a loophole that would allow an inside boat, not overlapped at the zone, to claim mark room after the outside boat has been given room to round the mark, when Rule 18.2 (b) turns off.

Rule 43, Exoneration (new rule)

“43.1 (a) When as a consequence of breaking a rule a boat has compelled another boat to break a rule, the other boat is exonerated for her breach.
(b) When a boat is sailing within the room or mark-room to which she is entitled and, as a consequence of an incident with a boat required to give her that room or mark-room she breaks a rule of Section A of Part 2, rule 15, 16, or 31, she is exonerated for her breach.
(c) A right-of-way boat, or one sailing within the room or mark-room to which she is entitled, is exonerated for breaking rule 14 if the contact does not cause damage or injury.
43.2 A boat exonerated for breaking a rule need not take a penalty and shall not be penalized for breaking that rule.”

Rationale and Impact

  1. Consolidates statements from current rules 14(b), 21, and 64.2 into one rule.
  2. Wording changed from “shall be” to “is” exonerated to clarify that a protest hearing is not required.


Yes, there is - but I have only covered what I think might only be appropriate for our club sailing at Hollowell


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